Heena Sidhu has a silver (2010) and bronze (2014) medal in the team events at the Asian Games so far, and now the 28-year-old will hope to clinch the elusive individual medal at the upcoming Asiad in Indonesia. The pistol shooter, who won a gold and silver at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, will be competing in the 10m air pistol event.
“This is another opportunity to do that to improve my performance. I have got two medals in the Asian Games, both team medals. Hopefully we will improve our performance this time, maybe even get a gold,” Sidhu told reporters on Saturday.
She is confident of a better showing from the Indian contingent this time, after the shooting squad returned with only one gold medal at the 2014 Incheon Games. Jitu Rai, who had won the 50m pistol gold then, has not had the scores to make the squad this time. In fact, the team has several young faces including several juniors who have done well this year.
“I have seen the performance of the Indian team, I have trained with them so I know where we went wrong the last time and how we have come from there. Everybody has improved so overall I expect a much better performance. I can’t say about the medals but as a team, the scores will come up,” she added.
However, she refused to comment on the controversy over exclusion from the air pistol mixed team, an event she has won a World Cup medal in. She had then said that the selection committee was bending the rules to favour certain individuals, but has since said that the matter is being looked into.
The 25m air pistol Commonwealth champion also insisted that an improved performances and better scores might not translate into medals given the tougher field at the Asiad.
“Asian Games is comparatively tougher than the Commonwealth Games. I am hopeful that this time will be better.
But athletes cannot guarantee a medal. You can only go there and perform, medals are a very subjective and comparative thing that happens at the end of a good performance. Our job is to give a good performance, improve your score and that is what I plan to do,” she added.
A more competitive field is not the only challenge awaiting the Indian shooters. None of the Indian shooters have any experience of the Jakabaring International Shooting Range in Palembang so far. Additionally, many of them have to head straight to Korea for the Shooting World Championship that will be held soon after.
The shooting events at the Asian are from the 19 to 26 August while the World Championship starts from August 31. The competition in Changwon assumes even more importance as an Olympic quota place is at stake. Sidhu will be shooting in all three events – 10m air pistol, 25m air pistol and mixed team at the World Championship and has been training for both events together.
“We are not having the same team for both competitions so some of the athletes will be well prepared and rested. I am preparing for the World championship as well because it will be immediately after the Asian Games and is an even bigger competition,” she said, adding that she is focusing equally on both pistol events.
“Both are important for me now, first it was 10m but now it’s been a long time that I am practising both,” she added.